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Wildlife conservation goes hi-tech in Assam’s Manas National Park

Sunday, 24 April 2016 | Anup Sharma | Guwahati | in Sunday Pioneer

The wildlife conservation in Assam’s Manas National Park has just gone high tech. The guards who used to patrol the park on foot has got motorcycles now for their routine rounds of the park and they are better trained in handling GPS system and handling of radio. They also have got trainings on basic combat skills, compass navigation, crime scene investigation and are now better trained on animal attack action.

Yes, the national park located in Western Assam has procured for ten motorcycles for the guards for better patrolling of the park and trained at least 20 youth-working under forest department and three NGOs-have been imparted three weeks of rigorous training not only to improve their patrol skills but sophisticated training on GPS and Radio handling, compass navigation, map reading, basic combat and first aid skills, crime scene investigation and Animal Attack Action, etc.

Located in the Himalayan foothills, Manas National Park is also a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve. The park shares contiguous landscape with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan and is known for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur, pygmy hog and the wild water buffalo.

The park also had a good population of one-horned rhino, which, however, got wiped out completely during the ethnic unrest in the region between 1988 to 2001. The one-horned rhino was, however, re-introduced in the park in 2010-11 by translocating from Kaziranga national park in Assam and there are about ten of the species in the park now.

Forester of the park, Mrinmoy Hazarika said this on Saturday while adding that apart from procuring of new motorbikes, the 20 young and energetic youth have also been trained on use of GPS and Radio handling, Compass Navigation, Map Reading, Basic Combat and First Aid skills, Crime Scene Investigation and Animal Attack Action, etc.

“All these have been done to ensure extensive and intricate patrolling deep inside the park and along the porous border of Manas which has a contiguous landscape with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan,” he said adding that earlier they could patrol on foot and could cover distances only as much their feet would allow. “Now that we have motorbikes, we feel better equipped and can patrol the park in a better way,” Hazarika said.

It may be mentioned here that the park authorities had recently procured ten motorbikes. The effort is initiated by wildlife NGO, Aaranyak and who has been working in the park for a long time to complement the long term investment in tiger conservation by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) of India, which has been supporting Manas since the initiation of the Project Tiger in 1973.

“Manas has a potential to increase its tiger population to double in ten years and that motivates us to support capacity building of forest staff to ensure that human imprint in the park is reduced through efficient patrol. We thank our donors, for supporting such infrastructure to improve patrol by the frontline forest staff,” said M Firoz Ahmed, Head, Tiger Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak.

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